Archive for September, 2015

Unsatisfied Knuckle Dragger

Dan Pink’s words struck a chord for me.  Not because he is a faithful boyfriend in Dr. Who, but because I have noticed a thing or two about motivation in myself.  Like a few other students in graduate school, I have had the opportunity to work outside of academia and been able to develop a professional skill to the point beyond competence.  I quit school and got hired out of a small engine mechanics class to be the first full time employee of a small business.  It was an interesting journey that has undoubtedly given me an entirely different perspective on life, and work.  While in that job I was progressing and even edging closer to mastery of a few mechanical skills, trouble shooting, welding, etc., and after a while my pay began to reflect my value to the business.

Pay, you would think that would be the primary motivator for me, but it turns out that I love to troubleshoot and tackle problems head on at work and even for fun.  Pink (of RSA, not BBC) mentioned that he found in the research, that money was only a motivator until it was no longer an issue.  It’s hard to think about that on a graduate student stipend, but I do remind myself that I am here to train, to get closer to mastery in my studies.  The idea there is that if your pay is enough to satisfy some of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs sort of things, your focus can then be on your work.  Work in the sense of application of skill, not force as engineers may think of it.  Work should be challenging, interesting and fun.  Many people tell me to not make career decisions based on money, it seems like an easy thing for them, but it may be more of a realization that their job is not as satisfying as their work could have been.  Sure, they can pay the bills but are they rewarded otherwise?  It doesn’t look to be as simple as motivation to complete the job but rather to excel and make it yours.  I would no doubt look with despair at a career focused on the skill set I have learned to only satisfy the requirements for a pay check.  I’ve done it and I know it does not fit me well.  I think that some businesses are beginning to see that they can motivate their employees in new ways.

I always think of the ridiculous sounding dream-like work conditions at places like the Google Plex , but things would resound when I walked past the Rack Space, RAX, playroom on my way to lunch at the U Mall.  This company was pulling out all kinds of stops to make their employees just plain happy.  I am sure that they were competitively compensated, but that place just looked like fun, and success.  It seems like there is a trend where people have realized that we are not just the new generation that likes to work hard to play hard, but rather a group of people that are capable and unless appropriately challenged, unsatisfied people.  Not wholly unsatisfied, but just enough to make us hungry and to make us yearn to be masters of our own work.  It may be that we have come here to a healthy, unsatisfied state, in spite of our education.  Looking at the ideology behind assessment and learning, I can identify with the practice of immersion but I also see how assessment can detract from learning.  Despite our declared proficiency of certain subjects, many of us will continue to want to learn even after the good test grades.

I have the feeling I will have to save my thoughts on assessment for another day…


Unsatisfied Learner and Recovering Knuckle Dragger->OUT


Socrates and the fistulated cow

You may be saying “what is a fistulated cow,” or you may be wondering about Socrates and cows.  In class so far, we have been discussing connected learning, and as a side note, testing, and how the culture or education relies so much on the final test grades of students as a feedback for educators.  One fellow student brought up an app, Socrative, that they use in class to find out just what content their students are digesting and what cud they have to chew further to be able to digest.  This app is another way to gauge engagement, and. conceptual and functunional understanding in a classroom, based on the various levels of interfacing between the app and the class.

“So the cow?”

Yes, the fistulated cow.  One tool that farm managers and veterinarians can use to manage a herd of cattle is to create a window into what they are consuming and how they are digesting it.  This window is created by making a tunnel into one of the cow’s stomachs and creating an access point that will not interrupt the digestion of the cow.  Often the plug that seals this tunnel looks like a window on the side of a cow.

Socrates supported a method of teaching that engaged the students in a manner that would inspire critical thinking, this app is an homage to that.  This app also acts like the window into the weird digestion by students, hence an interesting tool of feedback like the fistulated cow.  While educators would likely suffer if they thought of their students as grazers of knowledge and learning, they may be able to see that not all feedback gained from testing is indicative of learned material.  The educator is not there consuming with the students and so the level of digestion is a mystery.  Either system allows the manager a glance into what is actually happening in their respective models of consumption, and maybe a more direct route to analysis than testing is a system of feedback, the likes of which are being explored by systems like Socrative.